You will note as you study multihulled craft that the proportions can and will vary just as much as they do in monohulls. We have fat and heavy monohulls and we have ultralights. The designer must choose a balance of performance and accommodations that suits the particular sailor he is designing for.

The PDQ 36.

The PDQ 36.

Obviously the fastest cats just have two hulls with a big trampoline net in between like the one you saw Dennis Conner sail to whip the huge Kiwi boat in the last America's Cup. That type of cat is one end of the spectrum. Starting from that point the designer can begin to add volume in order to get some cruising accommodations. While the Atlantic 46 had a D/L ratio of 62, this 36-foot cruising cat built in Ontario, Canada, has a higher D/L ratio of 88.27. This difference in D/L ratios translates to more usable interior volume.

The PDQ 36 is an excellent example of what I was referring to regarding the aesthetics of multihulls. The sail plan shows a boat with a heavy look to the cabin structure, but an on-the-water visit to the PDQ revealed a pleasant-looking boat with a good feeling of balance. Again, note that the highest layer of the cabintrunk, designed to provide headroom at the dinette, is not wide at all, being tucked well inboard of the main cabintrunk. If you can put the work of Phil Rhodes out of your mind for a few minutes and ignore that Hinckley moored across the harbor, you might just end up admiring the sculpted lines of the PDQ.

The hulls are symmetrical with long and low-aspect-ratio fins located well forward to help with windward work. The rudders are tiny. Remember that when you restrict heel angle you do not need so much rudder area because the boat is not inclined to pull the rudder out of the water. You also have the benefit of having two rudders. This results in a major advantage to almost all the big cats in that they have very shoal draft. Beam max on this vessel is 18 feet, 3 inches and draft is 2 feet, 10 inches.

As you begin to study this interior layout, keep in mind that this boat weighs only 8,000 pounds. Upon entering the PDQ, you are faced with a large U-shaped dinette. This is essentially the main cabin, and it is partially open on the port side to the galley located down in the port hull. There are double-berth staterooms forward in each hull. The head is in the starboard hull, and there is an additional sleeping space aft of the galley in the port hull. Headroom in the dinette area is not enough for me to stand up straight, but headroom in the hulls is impressive.

My first strong impression of this interior was "Boy, this is really different." All your existing benchmarks for interior layouts have to be put aside. Note the settee forward of the head in the starboard hull. This seems like an awkward idea, and I'm not sure of the utility of this sunken seat as it does not appear to be convertible to a berth. This interior will work nicely for two couples.

I like to go fast. Bouncing across the waves, sitting on 800 horsepower and doing 75 knots is a good way to wake up your heart muscles. But my enjoyment of life on the water has more components than just speed. What I find lacking in the layout of this cat is the feeling of womb-like security I get when I go below on a traditional monohull. There are no sure design specs to produce this feeling, but it has always been a major part of my attraction to cruising boats. I am hoping that increased exposure to multihulls will teach me a wider range of appreciation of styles and layouts.

The cockpit of the PDQ is huge. You don't have to worry about crashing around in the cockpit because you are not going to heel 20 degrees. Unfortunately, the seat level in the cockpit puts your eyes down where your only clear line of sight is directly aft and this could get annoying. You steer from an elevated, powerboat-style seat with the wheel mounted on the bulkhead. Sail controls all lead to the cockpit including single line reefing controls. Steps are molded into each transom. There are virtually no side decks on this design, but sunning space is optimum with the large area provided by the bow trampolines.

Auxiliary power is provided by two 10-horsepower outboards tucked conveniently away in the hulls. These engines push the PDQ at seven knots and retract for zero drag under sail. The advantage of these widely spaced engines is that they can be used to give the PDQ a very tight turning radius in close quarters. Twin diesels are also available although I prefer the simplicity and light weight of the outboards.

The designer of the PDQ line of cats is Alan Slater. I look forward to seeing more of his work.

Boat Specifications
Displacement8000 lbs.
Sail Area490 sq. ft.
D/L ratio88.27
Fuel36 gals.
Water50 gals.
Auxiliarytwo 10 hp outboards


SAILINGlogo-115This story originally appeared in Sailing Magazine, and is republished here by permission. Subscribe to Sailing.